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Caldwell Trust Company Celebrates 15 Years

by Caldwell Trust


Caldwell Trust Company: From passionate commitment and lofty goals in 1993 to a thriving entity that successfully serves its ever-growing family of clients'

Where We've Been

Organizing the trust company

Caldwell Trust Company has its roots in the 1970's, when Roland Caldwell formalized his consulting services by establishing Caldwell & Co., an advisory firm specializing in investment guidance for the trust industry. By the late 1980's, he had become known as the author of a respected investment newsletter and was also a trust consultant for a major bank in Venice.

Roland watched in dismay as that bank and several others were sold or merged into other banking companies, with significant negative impacts on their customers. His son Kelly, a recent high-honors engineering graduate of Georgia Institute of Technology, found Caldwell & Co. so interesting that he abandoned plans for law school and joined Roland in 1988.

Roland knew that the key to running the business successfully was staying independent and focusing on building long-term client and staff relationships. Their success with Caldwell & Co. led to their decision to establish a company with a primary focus on family trusts and an unwavering commitment to remain independent. In late 1992, they called on respected associates to help prepare a charter application for what would become one of the few independent trust companies in Florida.

Roland and five others in the founding group were named to the first board of directors. They were Samuel Booth, Edmund B. Campbell, Herbert S. Howes, Jack Meyerhoff and Lloyd E. O'Meara.

In addition to the founding board and staff, the team included Kelly Caldwell; Lee Burns, a trust administrator; and Edrise L. Sievers, a specialist in trust operations. Kelly also brought in his friend, computer programmer (and Venice native) Daniel B. Williams. Kelly and Danny promptly began developing the proprietary software package that would provide Caldwell with a major competitive edge. Cathy Little and Lyn Braswell joined the trust operations team shortly after the initial team was found. Many of our first customers and their families are still with us today.


Caldwell's new home

Now that Caldwell had its people and its charter, it needed a permanent home. The industrious team started construction for permanent headquarters at 201 Center Road and began official operations. The new building provided space for the growing staff that Caldwell would require into the foreseeable future.

Charity from the start

While many know that Caldwell has a 15-year history of supporting worthy causes, few realize the trust company began this practice even before it officially existed.

One of our original clients asked us to underwrite a golf event for the Suncoast Offshore Racing Association (SORA), which benefits The Florida Center for Child and Family Development among others. We have been doing it from the day we were formed and continue to support them. 

Every team member is encouraged to give back. Caldwell has been underwriting activities for dozens of worthy organizations every year. In addition, Caldwell Trust Company established its own Foundation Trust to augment its charitable activities.

Where We Are Today

Caldwell Trust Company has completed 2008 as its best year ever. Even in these troubled times, while the rest of the world is suffering through layoffs, our company is still hiring outstanding people. We have nearly doubled our trust administration staff since April 2007.

We've gone from a small start-up company to a broad-based one with the ability to handle more business. The company serves as a trust manager and trustee for families, allocating client assets into stocks, bonds and other investments. For larger accounts, Caldwell also serves as 'quarterback' for the family, serving as an adviser for all family and business matters. Its third, and newest, focus is employee retirement plans, where CTC provides comprehensive trust services for businesses and organizations that have retirement plans for their employees.

Because we don’t sell products, we don’t have conflicts pushed on us. Our business sis managing the assets of our clients and we’re positioned perfectly o provide services in this volatile marketing. Banks go into trouble because they started diversifying, looking for products to sell. In contract, we focus on one thing: providing fiduciary services. Period. That’s the essence of our business. Roland and the cofounding board saw it. They created it the right corporate structure and mission to provide services for the long term.

Our difference is in our philosophy, whether we’re managing money or implementing estate plans, no matter how many zeroes in the account. We pride ourselves on being ‘Personal, Traditional, Independent’’ – and these are no meaningless words.

Personal: “Taking care of families is a primary mission at Caldwell. We get to know each family and its goals, we take care of their special needs, and we work to ensure that our clients’ wishes for their families are fulfilled.

Traditional:  Every client has a specific trust officer dedicated to helping safeguard his or her family and its financial future.

Independent: Advice, expertise and personal service are all we sell at Caldwell. With no out-of-state parent calling the shots or requiring us to sell products, we have no vested interest in selling investment products – and we don’t do it.

Proprietary Software

Roland and the founding directors did a great job in setting up the business model for CTC. It provides for well-managed growth. One great result of the original structure is that we have built our own back-room operations capability. When we were looking into software, Roland said, “Let’s do it ourselves’ - and we did. That proprietary software provides so much efficiency that we can continue to grow and add clients without needing to add operating staff. We started with two people in operations when we had $50 million under management. Now that we are managing around $400 million, we still need just 2.5 people.”

Many trust software programs put obstacles in the way of efficiency. Our software allows us to toggle between investment, personal, tax and other information to respond to questions immediately even while we’re speaking on the phone. Its one-stop shopping and can grant access to everything about an account. On any given day, we can access historical data, prepare a statement or even get an updated tax report for a client instantly.

Growth without turnover

In a business this personal, you can’t afford to lose people and their client relationships – and we don’t. From the day of this institution’s founding, we have always treated our staff like family. When your structure allows people to do what the want, they stay.

Where We’re Going

Kelly Caldwell sees only good things ahead for Caldwell Trust Company. We are well-positioned for today and for the future. Growth is a key part of Caldwell’s future, with expansion geared towards increasing clients and revenue rather than opening additions offices. The growing client base has required a near-doubling of trust administrators since early 2007, with only minimal impact on the operations staff.

In addition, although the concept has not yet moved off the drawing board, Caldwell’s extensive back-office operations and software provide the capability of setting up turnkey operations in other parts of the country, with Caldwell serving as master custodian for other investment services.

Board member and noted banking authority Tramm Hudson sees merit in Kelly’s assessment of growing to $1 billion in the not so distant future. From a historical perspective, Caldwell Trust Company is conservative in its approach, consistent in its returns and conscientious about the safety and soundness of managing investments for families. Looking forward, our history demonstrated hat Caldwell Trust Company is here for the long term.

Projections aside, the best pat of the last 15 years has been meeting the nicest people and being able to help them out.

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